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Chiefs players pay respects to Belcher at service

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Chiefs players pay respects to Belcher at service

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Heads bowed, somber past and present Kansas City Chiefs players turned out Wednesday for a memorial service for teammate Jovan Belcher, who killed his girlfriend and then himself over the weekend.

Belcher fatally shot 22-year-old Kasandra Perkins on Saturday at the Kansas City home they shared with their 3-month-old daughter, Zoey. He then drove to the Chiefs practice facility at Arrowhead Stadium, where coach Romeo Crennel, general manager Scott Pioli and defensive assistant Gary Gibbs witnessed Belcher commit suicide.

The team moved up its practice schedule so that players could attend Wednesday afternoon's service at the nearby Landmark International Deliverance and Worship Center, where Belcher and Perkins worshipped. The media wasn't allowed inside.

Afterward, a coffin was wheeled from the building and driven away in a hearse.

Retired Chiefs Hall of Famer Bobby Bell said Pioli and an uncle of Belcher's spoke during the service.

``It's done and over with and people need to get on with their lives, and the team needed to try to get forward,'' Bell said. ``It's tough on them. When you see somebody and play with them you're buddies, friends.''

Many of the players boarded coach buses after the service, but a few walked to their own vehicles with their wives and girlfriends.

``It was good,'' running back Peyton Hillis said of the service. He wouldn't comment further.

Defensive end Ropatisp Pitoitua, kicker Ryan Succop, and linebacker Derrick Johnson said they didn't want to be interviewed.

Before the service, veteran offensive lineman Ryan Lilja said he hoped the memorial would provide some closure for the Chiefs, who will try to win their second straight game Sunday at Cleveland.

``You got to try to deal with it however you deal with it, and grieve the best way for the individual,'' he said, ``and I think this is the best way for us as a team to get closure and move on and focus on football.''

Lilja said some players have taken advantage of counseling services that have been provided by the Chiefs and the NFL and that there's been a change in the atmosphere around the team building.

``There definitely is more, `How you doing? How you feeling? How you coping?''' Lilja said. ``There's definitely more of that, and people leaning on each other, and be an ear when they need it. Guys are going to deal with this on an individual basis.''

Pastor Sylvarena Funderburke, who serves at Repairers of the Breach Christian Center in Kansas City, said she was at the service to sing ``I Won't Complain,'' a song the Belcher family requested.

``It is an honor. We don't always understand why things happen,'' she said before the service. ``That's when you have to rely on your faith and just trust God to give you strength to make it through tough times.''

Karen Young, who belongs to the Landmark church and serves as an usher, said Belcher and Perkins went to the church ``practically'' every week until the baby was born but hadn't been seen much since then.

Larry Brown, who also attends the Landmark church, said Belcher was ``gentle'' and ``caring'' and Perkins ``a real nice person.''

``I believed that they were made for each other,'' said Brown, whose brother is the church's leader, Bishop John L. Brown. ``They didn't appear to be the type of people who just put on facades. They were very happy. She was very genuine. Every time I saw them, they were always laughing.''

The barber shop where Belcher was a regular is in the same strip mall where the church is located. Barber Lee Garron walked over to the memorial service to pay his respects.

``He was a good person,'' Garron said. ``He was. He was like anyone else. You don't know what they are thinking or what is going on in their head. It's like you or me. You just never know.''

Belcher's Chiefs locker remained full of his equipment and personal belongings Wednesday as players quickly showered and dressed in suits for the service. Some said they avoided looking at the linebacker's locker, while others were fine with seeing their teammate's things as he left them.

``I don't have a problem seeing Javon's locker over there,'' defensive back Travis Daniels said.

He said it was important for the team to support the families of everyone involved.

``We're definitely thankful we have the opportunity to see them one last time before they go home and everything,'' Daniels said ahead of the service, referring to relatives who traveled from out of town to attend. ``We definitely want to go and pay respects to him and his family.''

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AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta contributed to this story.

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.